EEOC sues Hillstone for age discrimination | United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Restaurant refused to hire older candidates at its New York premises, federal agency charges

NEW YORK – Hillstone Restaurant Group, Inc. violated federal law by denying employment to applicants ages 40 and older for hospitality positions at its two New York locations because of their age, the company has charged. US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a complaint filed yesterday.

Hillstone Restaurant Group is a privately owned, family-owned company that operates approximately 40 upscale restaurants across the country under various brands, including Hillstone.

According to the EEOC lawsuit, despite having a pool of highly qualified applicants aged 40 and over, Hillstone refused to hire these people for front-end positions (waiters, hosts/hostesses, and bartenders) at its Midtown and Park locations. South Ave. Hillstone’s senior managers rejected qualified candidates because they were deemed “too old” or “didn’t fit the demographic group” Hillstone wanted to hire, instead favoring much younger—and much less qualified—candidates.

Such behavior violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of age. The EEOC filed an action (EEOC v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:22-cv-03108) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York after the parties failed to been able to reach a pre-litigation settlement. through the EEOC conciliation process.

The EEOC is seeking back wages and damages for applicants age 40 and older who were denied employment because of their age. The EEOC also calls for a strong injunction to remedy and prevent age discrimination in the future. The agency’s litigation effort will be led by Attorney Renay Oliver and Supervising Attorney Nora Curtin.

“Unfortunately, the restaurant industry continues to be one where many employers openly discriminate on the basis of age when it comes to public-facing roles,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the office of New York District of the EEOC. “The EEOC’s pursuit of this case will disabuse them of the idea that they can do this without consequences.”

Judy Keenan, District Manager of the New York District Office, added, “The EEOC stands ready to uphold the right of older applicants to be judged on their qualifications, not their age.”

For more information on age discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/age-discrimination.

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for handling charges of discrimination and conducting agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.


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